Over the last few weeks I have felt lost as though my direction in life has somehow become confused and not sure of where I am heading. That said, I have looked back at my blogs over the last few months and it seems I have been lost for some time. I have come to realise, from talking with friends, that I do quite a lot of things and maybe it is the amount of things that I do that is causing the confusion. That if I cut down certain activities then I can give full attention to those that I am left with.
One thing that I have always found help with finding balance in my life is meditation and mindfulness. Though I admit now that my practice is very sporadic and I need someone to remind me to do it. So I had a hunt around my local area for meditation classes as the kick that I need to make my practice more ‘formal’ – if formal is the right word. I need someone to point out the qualities and peacefulness that it brings and by attending classes I can see the benefits and use them as motivation to correct my practice.
I am lucky where I live as there is a Buddhist centre not far from me and they provide out reach classes on a weekly basis. Every six weeks they have a different subject and various topics are explored each week. The subject of this six week course is ‘Developing Self Confidence’ and tonight’s class was ‘Being Kind To Yourself’. The classes are structured by introducing us to a breathing exercise, to help reduce anxiety and prepare us for a teaching relating to the topic followed by another meditation to contemplate what we were taught.
The first meditation tonight was being peace to ourselves by acknowledging the achievement of attending the class. I’ll be honest and say that the last few days I have found leaving the flat quite hard so to acknowledge that I have actually left the flat and started a brand new course, on my own, was an eye opener. By telling myself that this was an achievement and I have overcome anxiety of leaving the flat, the risk of getting lost on the way to the centre, by walking into a room full of strangers, sitting down with my eyes closed was actually relieving; powerful.
When I support other people when they are anxious or having a panic attack I always tell them about focusing on the breath; breathe in and breathe out for a couple of minutes. They tell me it helps them and I do practice this myself when I need to. Though when this first meditation where we focused on the breath going in through the nostrils and out through the nostrils appeared to go on for quite a while. I’d have a guess at being sat focusing on our breath for 20 minutes or more. It was hard, there were distractions and thoughts coming and going. Somehow I managed it, with the anxiety falling from my stressed shoulders. I managed to find some peace where the thoughts were acknowledged and allowed to drift away again after. I was at peace.
Our teacher spoke about how we as humans crave happiness and strive to stay away from suffering. We do what we can to attain these states of mind. Though, we don’t actually recognise that they are states of mind and that when we seek happiness we look for external stimulus to achieve it. We buy a new phone, a bigger TV or run away to an exotic place (see my last blog for that one). By doing this we bring ten minutes or so of happiness and sadly fall back into the old way of thinking and behaving. We need to find happiness from within, to train our mind to locate the peaceful place that can bring us happiness.
He also spoke about anger, explaining to us that we’re not born with anger and that it can be developed in to a habit. Anger comes from when we are not in control of a situation and we do not necessarily have enough self confidence to speak out calmly. This leads to lashing out and saying things that we may not mean, which in turn causes us pain as well as pain to those who we lashed out to. Therefore we bring suffering upon ourselves. I admit that I have been guilty of this very recently, I have said some thing’s that I now regret. It was because I was not in control and I wanted my point of view heard; something which after tonight’s class I seek to correct and apologise for my behaviour. I do not expect them to accept the apology; though hope that they can understand.
We were then given anther meditation to contemplate tonight’s teachings, which was an opportunity for me to realise what brings me peace and happiness and what brings me pain and suffering. It has confirmed to me that I need to practice meditation more often, which as a friend quite rightly points out ‘Just F-ing Do It’. Also that I need to approach challenges with an open mind, accepting that I can’t change the world but I can try to change small aspects to better mine and other people’s lives.
I’m going to be continuing these weekly classes as I have really felt the benefit of taking time out from the real world, to look at things in a different perspective and with loving kindness. I hope to share with you my teachings in the hope that they will be of benefit to you, as much as they have been to me.